Japan stayed perfect in World Cup qualifying by routing Mongolia 14-0, its fifth win of the second stage coming 16 months after the fourth.
The Japanese scored five goals in the first half, added nine more in the second and now lead Group F with 15 points. A victory over Myanmar on June 3 will secure first place in the group and a spot in the third round of Asian qualifying.
The eight group winners and four best second-place teams will advance to the next stage, which is scheduled to start in September.
Takumi Minamino, Yuya Osako, Daichi Kamada and Hidemasa Morita all scored in the first half, along with an own-goal from Mongolia defender Khash-Erdene Tuyaa.
Osako ended up with a hat trick, while Sho Inagaki, Junya Ito and Kyogo Furuhashi scored two goals each. Takuma Asano also scored.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said a big winning margin against Mongolia wasnt the priority.
“Rather than focusing on their opponents, our players concentrated on what they wanted to achieve for themselves,” Moriysasu said in comments reported by the Kyodo news agency. “I was able to try some different formations and expand our options.” The Japanese warmed up with a 3-0 win last week in a friendly against South Korea, organized after their scheduled match against Myanmar was postponed.
Tuesdays game had been scheduled to take place in Mongolia but was changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Asian Football Confederation decided earlier this month to play all remaining Group F matches in Japan. Mongolia was coming off a 3-0 loss to Tajikistan in Dushabe last Thursday, one of the first games in Asian qualifying since November 2019.
Later Tuesday, Saudi Arabia beat Palestine 5-0 in the only other qualifying match from the Asian region and moved to the top of Group D above Uzbekistan.
Yasser Al-Shahrani and Fahad Al-Muwallad scored late in the first half to give the hosts the lead in Riyadh. Two goals from Saleh Al-Shehri early in the second and a late penalty from Salem Al-Dawsari completed the rout.
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